Black Lives protesters displeased with police presence at rally - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Black Lives protesters displeased with police presence at rally

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A crowd gathered in downtown Chattanooga on Thursday night to protest for black lives. Police were there, too, but some protesters were not happy with their presence.

Chattanooga Police told Channel 3, officers were there to make sure the protest stayed peaceful, so people could stay safe while expressing their views, even though some of those views were not shared.

People gathered in Miller Park to take a stand in the wake of recent violence across the nation. Some held signs that urged an end to police brutality, and that Black Lives Matter.

Others wore shirts that read: "Defund Police." 

"I don't believe that we need police to protect us," said protest organizer Aysja Pryor of Concerned Citizens for Justice, who instead called for a community policing system.  

CPD officers were on the scene to make sure the protest stayed peaceful. They also offered free food and water to demonstrators.

"The police are literally walking around, trying to meet people and talk to people, so that they're not aware (of the problems)," said Pryor, who was not pleased with the police presence.  

"You wear that blue suit for 40 hours a week, or however long, but you can take that off," she said. "I can't take this (black skin) off. This is on me."

Assistant Police Chief Tracy Arnold, who is black, has worn a blue uniform for nearly 30 years.

"Me personally, I understand how (protesters) feel and where they're coming from," Arnold said. "I feel like they need to understand our position as well. And once they see both perspectives, perhaps they can come to a commonality with that."

To bridge that gap, he said communication is needed on both sides.

"If they take time to realize that we all want the same thing," he said, "then perhaps that gap will begin to bridge."

More peaceful gatherings are planned for this weekend. A vigil will be held in front of the Chattanooga Police Department on Saturday at 5 p.m. to pray for peace as a community.

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